Turnera diffusa aphrodisiaca
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Common Name: Damiana
Photograph by: H. Zell
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Turnera diffusa aphrodisiaca is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 1.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
Southern N. America to Northern S. America.
Dry sandy or rocky places[
Requires a dry soil in a warm sunny sheltered position[
One report says that this species is hardy to about -5°c[
], though this needs to be treated with some caution considering its native range is entirely tropical[
]. It is possible that, whilst the plant will be cut back to the ground by cold weather, the rootstock is hardier and will re-sprout in the spring[
]. It will certainly be worthwhile trying the plant outdoors and giving the roots a thick protective mulch in the autumn[
The leaves are used as a tea substitute and also as a flavouring in liqueurs[
]. They have a strongly aromatic slightly bitter taste[
Damiana was a traditional aphrodisiac of the Maya people in Central America. It continues to be considered valuable as an aphrodisiac and general tonic, and its stimulant tonic action makes it a valuable remedy for those suffering from mild depression[
The whole plant is a bitter, pungent, warming herb with a fig-like flavour[
]. Its use improves the digestion, lifts the spirits, calms the nerves, regulates hormonal activity, stimulates the genito-urinary tract and rejuvenates kidney energy[
]. It is used internally to treat nervous exhaustion, anxiety, depression, debility in convalescence, impotence, premature ejaculation, prostate complaints, urinary infections, frigidity, vaginal discharge, painful menstruation, menopausal problems, poor appetite and digestion, and atonic constipation[
]. The plants are harvested when in flower and are dried for later use[
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and give some protection from winter cold for at least their first winter outdoors.
Division in spring or autumn[
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame. Overwinter the young plants in a greenhouse and plant them out in early summer.